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Think you know Wales? The lush green hills, the seaside towns, the slate and stone cottages? We all know that Wales, but there is another Wales too, a Wales of Italian architecture, Transylvanian-style castles, and African connections. Come with us on a world tour of Wales.
The imposing stone walls and unusual polygon towers ofÂ Caernarfon CastleÂ could easily stand in for the true setting of Elsinore in Hamlet, Kronborg Castle in Denmark. Like its counterpart, Caernarfon Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site, overlooking the sea.
View of Caernarfon Castle
No need to travel all the way to Transylvania for a taste of Dracula. The high Gothic turrets ofÂ Castell CochÂ near Cardiff cast a haunting shadow across the reassuringly Welsh landscape.
Castell Coch near Cardiff
Llynnon MillÂ on the island of Anglesey is the only working windmill in Wales. A magnificent 18th Century mill making the most of the windswept islandâ€™s situation on the north- western edge of Wales, it is a match for any of the windmills in Holland.
Llynnon Mill on the island of Anglesey
TheÂ Snowdon Mountain RailwayÂ is a bucket list favourite, but did you know that the steam engine has a twin sister? Built over 100 years ago in the same factory, a Swiss locomotive is also still in operation. In 2018, the long-lost twins were reunited briefly when the Swiss locomotive paid a visit to Snowdonia.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway
PortmeirionÂ is perhaps the most famous Italian town outside Italy. The colourful Italianate architecture and playful public spaces make it utterly unlike anywhere else among the slate mountains of Snowdonia.Â
Portmeirion, an Italian style town in Wales!
Donâ€™t travel to the ends of the earth to sea the night sky in all its awesome beauty. TheÂ Brecon BeaconsÂ in South Wales have International Dark Sky Reserve status. Visit in winter, when the nights are longer, and you may even see the Northern Lights beyond the snow-capped mountain peaks.
View of the nightsky
No need to film in New Zealand, when the most picturesque parts of Middle Earth are right here in Wales. The beautifulÂ Llyn PadarnÂ in Snowdonia, with its glacial waters, mountain backdrop and lone tree, might easily have been on Bilbo Baggins journey, There and Back Again.
Llyn Padarn in Snowdonia
We donâ€™t tend to associate Wales with vineyards but there are a hardy handful and their numbers are growing.Â Pant Du VineyardÂ on the southern slopes of the Nantlle Valley in Snowdonia, layers up the French feel with orchards too, evoking the rustic landscape of Normandy.
Pant Du Vineyard in Snowdonia
In the right light, on a hot day, if you squint your eyes, the golden sands of Harlech Beach might just take on the heavenly aura of a sun-soaked Caribbean beach.
View of Harlech Beach
The last stop on our world tour is Hay-on-Wye on the South Wales border with England. And what has this little book town got to do with the far-off city of Timbuktu in Mali? Well, back in 2007, Timbuktu chose Hay-on-Wye as its twin town. Visit during the Hay Walking Festival from 10-13 October and take the Timbuktu Trail, which highlights the similarities and differences between the two towns.Â
As you can see, some of the best holiday destinations in Wales are world-class! For your real-life world tour of Wales, stay in a woodland cabin, complete with hot tub, atÂ Beddgelert in Snowdonia, or atÂ Forest of DeanÂ in Gloucestershire which is close to the Welsh border and just an hour from the historic city sights of Cardiff.
The twin town of Timbuktu